Now describe ball under sea

A reader suggeted to me that I should tell you the “scores on the doors” for the surveys on this site. It seemed a good idea so I had a look behind the scenes at the latest one.

Regular readers may remember that you can actually find out what the scores are by voting yourself. When you enter your details it tells you the score.

The only thing is, if you look at the current scores you’ll find that the don’t knows have it.

When I looked at the email addresses, however, I found that the don’t knows are made up of the following well known Consett characters: “now”, “describe”, “ball”, “under”, “sea”, “advantage”, “regard”, “satisfy” and “teach”.

I’ve decided that it’s a tribute to the increasing power and reach of this website that efforts are now being made to sabotage my surveys. But what does it say if even those who would sabotage it don’t know which side of the fence to come down on?

Telling it the way it is

We got some new bathroom scales in our house recently – and I don’t like them. They are less generous (and more accurate) than the old ones. They have punctured my self deceit.

Recently the providers of “mycouncillor” websites have created a new counter for this website. They run it alongside the old one, but it is probably much more accurate. As I understand it it counts each entrant to the website, and will not record the same number of “robots” and spam “phishers” which trawl the web.

Like our new bathroom scales, the figures are not flattering, but I figure that in politics knowing the truth is important, and telling the truth is just as important. That’s why readers of the blog statistics page will see a sudden decline.

It’s ironic that last month we burst through the 6000 hits target I had set myself – but only on the old counter. The new hit counter showed just 906 separate visits.

So now we know the truth – and I have a new target. From now on the blog statistics will show the new scores, and the new target is 1,000 separate visits in the month.

Keep up your visits. Help me to learn to love the new counter. I don’t expect ever to learn to love the new bathroom scales!

Cobblers 2

With the election looming, I thought you might be interested in a little history.

Eight years ago, Durham City had been ruled by Labour for as long as anyone could remember. It is no longer – and some of the fatal undermining of that regime was achieved by a disgruntled cobbler. The story is worth reading at http://www.newstatesman.com/200011060014

His self-appointed “apprentice” has revived the tradition at http://cobblers2dcc.blogspot.com/ 

As with anything which is anonymous it needs to be read with a healthy scepticism, and it is not clear who is behind the site. Discerning readers of this blog, however, can no doubt be trusted with such explosive material.

They work for you!

You may be surprised to know that these words refer to MPs. Actually, they are also the name of a website which contains a wealth of information about what your MP has been doing and saying – or not doing and saying – as the case may be. You can find the website at http://www.theyworkforyou.com/ or click the link to go straight there.

One beauty of the site is that they forward emails to your MP from you, and then check with you later to see if you’ve had a response. In this way they can get a record of how good your MP is at replying to contacts.

Why not give it a try by urging your MP to back the private member’s Public Sector Buildings (Energy Performance) Bill. You can read my earlier post for basic information, but remember – the second reading is on Friday so your MP needs to hear from you pronto.

Is there anyone out there?

Alien spaceshipIt’s been encouraging. A steady increase in the number of hits on the site, and then last night when I logged on to administer the site there were four comments waiting to be moderated.

I was suprised if the loose railing outside Lloyds TSB had roused so much interest, but perhaps someone was going to tell me what was causing the phenomenon.

Sadly, all four comments were offers of some dubious pharmaceuticals, probably considered suitable for a man of my age. But they did remind me to ask any readers, “who are you?”

I’d really be interested in the answer to that, and in the idea of this website being open to two way conversation. Just drop me a comment, and say if you want it to be anonymous. Let me know what has interested you, what has bored you. Let me know if yours is a one-off visit or you drop in regularly.

At the moment I don’t know if this website is any more use than the councillor’s surgery I have run each month for six months, with just one visitor in that time. So that’s why I’d really like to hear from you.

Happy New Year 2008

Happy New Year to all readers. I hope it is a prosperous and happy one for you.  As your councillor I have made a number of resolutions. Apart from the usual one of getting a grip on my weight (which always fails) I have made a number of political ones which I will try very hard to keep. You can help me to keep them by a mixture of encouragement and nagging, criticism and praise.

  1. Put at least one new item per week on this website so that voters know more of what’s going on
  2. Put out at least four Focus leaflets a year for the same reason
  3. Respond quickly to any comments, queries or issues raised with me
  4. Regularly demonstrate that as a Liberal Democrat I will put myself where my mouth is; fighting for hard-won freedoms and helping people to have control over their own lives
  5. Treat everyone in the ward equally, regardless of political, social or religious opinions, age, sex, nationality, wealth and all the other things which can get in the way of that aim

Please help me to keep these resolutions. And please use me and this website to help the free-flow of information locally. If you think you know something that others should be made aware of let me know – though obviously you will accept that I have to exercise editorial judgement over what goes onto this site. Owen Temple